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fake vegas 2
the apology
by joe procopio (@jproco)
pop culture

Dear Atlantic City,

I'm sorry.

Keep the money.



I know. Not only is this my second sequel in a row, it's also my second column on Atlantic City in four months. To make it up to you, I spent dozens of hours embedding 21 separate instances in this column where you can add "That's what she said."

Fun game? Or cheap gimmick?


As for the AC, I'm just glad I didn't go too hard on the girl the first time around, and that I ended that column on a positive note -- that as smelly and hookery and Jersey Shoresy as Fake Vegas was, there was still a the smell of unfulfilled potential in the air.

It was just overpowered by the smell of armpit.

Whoa. Sorry. Again. Sorry. Sometimes it just goes off unintentionally.

In November, I documented the first ever trip to the AC for myself and Scott, veteran gambling scoundrels with multiple junkets under our belts, from Sin City to international waters, but never to the Garden State.

Imagine a PG-rated version of The Hangover. No, not PG-13, that would have been too much fun, just most of the annoying and none of the comedy. That's essentially what happened.

We went again in February, and this trip was far more better than the first one. All it took was a few simple adjustments. And I learned that any experience, no matter how mundane, when you apply some basic tenets and common sense, can eventually lead to being punched by a middle-aged Asian hooker in public.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Lesson #1: Bring Your Own Fun

This time, we doubled up with two of our friends, both of whom are high-school friends of mine.

Adding another couple made it far more satisfying. We're all kind of the same guy but a little taller in some cases and a little uglier in others. We can all drink all day and not puke or start a fight with an Asian hooker, and that's the most important point.

This mix made every moment in Atlantic City more awesome that it had a right to be. When things got slow, which things inevitably got, it helped to have what was essentially our own moving party where everyone was invited.

Lesson #2: Find Your Niche

Part of the problem last time was we had no idea what we were getting into. You never get a true feel for a place until you get deep down into it. But last time, towards the end of the trip, I got a good vibe from Caesars, so this time we booked rooms there.

Great move.

Caesars is in the middle of the boardwalk, with Bally's and a few smaller casinos and several restaurants within walking distance. Plus they have a less lackadaisical definition of security.

The people there were friendlier too. They practically bent over backwards to fulfill our every need. And whereas last time I had questions and got blank stares, this time I got preemptive suggestions.

"It's nearly noon. Have you gentlemen eaten? If you tell me what you're in the mood for, I can point you in the right direction."

"I love you."

Lesson #3: Don't Be Stupid

There's stupid and there's stupid. Here is a list of some of the stupid things we did. I could list all the stupid things we did, but that would be much harder, and frankly it all falls into the same category. I'm not bragging about how straight-up-out-of-control-apeshit-crazy we were. I'm doing the opposite.

* Tackled each other on several gaming floors and in the lobby of the hotel.

* Zig-zagged our way to the elevator at 3:00 in the morning.

* Walked to Ruth's Chris on Atlantic Avenue at night.

* Spilled an entire drink onto a live gaming table.

* Played roulette.

* Stole shampoo. From the cleaning cart.

Here's a list of the stupid things we didn't do

* Tackle someone into a table or another player.

* Barf in the elevator at 3:00 in the morning.

* Walk alone on Atlantic Avenue at night.

* Not apologize.

* Play $500 spins of roulette like that moron from Brooklyn.

* Steal chips from the rack.

Notice a trend? One makes a nice story to tell to your buddies the next weekend. The other makes you mugged, broke, or makes you friends in Atlantic County. Friends with benefits.

Lesson #4: Make Friends

But don't get me wrong. I can't tell you how important it is to make friends wherever you are, even if it's in lockup. Just stick out your hand. Say hello. Ask people their name, remember it, and use it. This isn't some sort of backroom special deal. This is common sense and basic human nature.

It just happens to pay off. Every time.

Back to Ruth's Chris. Treating the waitress with the utmost respect allowed us to not be removed when the talk turned very loud and disturbingly scatological and I finally dropped a joke that made one of the guys spit raspberry sorbet out of his nose and all over the table, sending the rest of us to the floor laughing.

Again, I'm not proud of this. By all rights, we should have been booted. If I was sober and trying to enjoy my steak and shrimp with a side of mushrooms, I would have asked that we be removed. But we got off. And only because we were nice to the waitress.

Same with the dealers, including one who wouldn't let one of us drunkenly hit on a 17. Same with the pit-bosses. Same with the cab drivers and the rickshaw drivers.

By the way, I can't do that. I can't have my ass dragged around by another person. This resulted in the four of us ultimately walking a mile and a half in 20-degree weather with no jackets. But I think we made the right choice.

These four simple lessons ought to be enough to get you maximum pleasure out of any experience. And they made my return trip to the AC the polar opposite of my first.

Just goes to show you, you can't judge a book by its cover, nor a place by the smell of hot garbage and Indian food.


Joe Procopio trades in pop culture and tech culture, allowing him to poke fun at so many things. He's written for a number of online and offline publications from the late, lamented Smug to the fancy-pants Chicago Tribune and also for television. He's a novelist, a shredder, a joker, and a family man. Scoff at joeprocopio.com or follow on Twitter @jproco.

more about joe procopio


laughing in the face of death
potentially stupid, definitely necessary
by joe procopio
topic: pop culture
published: 10.3.11

i need my space
a potentially unwise criticism of social networking sites
by joe procopio
topic: pop culture
published: 8.2.06


scott hirni
3.2.11 @ 8:29a

I think the reason we didn't get banned for life from Ruth's was because the reservation was under the name Carlos.

Raspberry Sorbet is not as noticeable on Black linen as it is on White. I left that comment in the suggestion box.

I felt the article needed more coverage on you getting punched by a 60yr old Asian hooker for no reason at all. That's was priceless.

robert melos
3.4.11 @ 12:09a

You're learning how to earn the respect of New Jersey. Very good. A few more trips and you might con NJ into doing your bidding, but don't over estimate your abilities, or under estimate NJ's ability to turn on you in a New York moment. Glad you had fun.

greg knicley
3.4.11 @ 9:34p


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